Poush Mela, that started as a small Tagore family affair along with a handful of Brahmo Samaj followers, has today become one of the most international events in Shantiniketan. Legend goes that Rabindranath Tagore’s father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore fell in love with this tribal land while on a casual trip; and continued to stay on and work towards building the place to be a known centre for art and culture in Bengal. He embraced, started by his father’s friend Raja Rammohon Roy. He embraced the new faith of “Brahmo Dharma” here and as a memorabilia of the occasion he started the Poush Mela so that young, vibrant artists could meet with the local people and exchange ideas.
Every year it is celebrated on the 7th day of the Bengali month of Poush, and this year it falls between December 24 – 26, where you can enjoy the carnival setting with Baul musicians, Tribal dancers, Bengal’s local artisans and millions of visitors from across the world. The Shantiniketan Mela ground hosts the fair with great excitement and gaiety.
It is a great experience browsing through the beautiful work of art and craft on display and the best way to immerse oneself in the true culture of Bengal. Then of course, there’s breath-taking cultural performances by troops and students of Visva-Bharati University. The occasion with exuberant festivities is made more complete with live Bengali folk music. You will also find stalls selling beautiful Batik print and Taant saree along with other handloom items manned by artisans from as far and beyond as Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Food is an integral part of Bengali culture; you can treat your taste buds to authentic treats like Paati saptha, a kind of sweet pancake that is a must-try. There are items to satiate all your savoury taste buds as well, especially the good old fish fry. The festival celebrates the Bengali spirit in the true sense and the rustic vibe makes it worth a visit.